Proverbs in 365 Devotions
Proverbs 28:3 A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food.
A Beating Rain
So here is a verse which can also be translated a little differently; to say that a lacking man, or one who is destitute who oppresses the poor. So this is a man who lacks something for sure and... maybe it’s because he is a poor man… it’s a bit hard to tell.
One reason is because we are trying to find the context based on other words in the verse… you see, at the same time this man is lacking something the Hebrew seems to give an emphasis to this man as being one who is strong in some way… maybe even a leader. Some of the translations do refer to him as a leader who oppresses the poor and others as the ESV we read refer to him as a poor man who oppresses the poor so it’s a bit difficult to get the context here. Still, which ever way it is… we can see how when anyone oppresses the poor it can be like a beating rain that leaves the ground bare.
If this is referring to a leader…. think of this: You know that a good rain is good for growing crops. If a leader as a beating rain… its’ a bad thing; he should be one who brings nourishment and things needed for prospering and growth to the poor and not be as one who takes advantage of them as easy prey.
On the other hand, a poor man who oppresses the poor reminds me of the parable Jesus gave in Matthew 18. A servant owed the king 10,000 talents… that was a ton of money which he could not pay. The king ordered that his wife and children and all that he had be sold and applied to his debt. The servant begged the king for mercy and the king forgave him the debt in full. This was a poor man right? Here’s what he did next:
Matthew 18:28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’
So look, whether rich or poor… we are all like the rain to others around us. We will either take advantage of those to which it is in our power to do so… If we choose this oplion, we will likely make the claim that our actions are like a good rain and then in our self righteousness we sweep down on the defenseless and wash away the few things they have.
Instead of nourishing and helping the poor we are tempted to take advantage of their need… we offer them less than market value for their houses… We might even go to their garage sales and counter offer an item they have marked at 25 cents… “Will you take a nickel for that?”.
It seems to be ingrained into our culture… We are a brainwashed people to be all out for ourselves… There are plenty of books teaching it…. our culture boldly says it… “You are Number 1” “To look out for yourself is your primary purpose”…
However, if you are a good nourishing rain… then you will come softly upon the weak plants. Your touch will be tender. Your gentleness will nourish them and bring them healthy growth.
How do we do that? If you have ever cared for a garden then you know it means you will have to get dirty. Your hands and knees… well, your whole body. You see, relationships are messy and a simple hand out will not nourish them out of their poverty… If we give money and then with clean hands step away we are enabling them to depend on that very thing and so stay in their poverty.
So helping the poor has always been something Jesus did and charged us to do hand in hand with our primary mission of seeing more of his glory and sharing his beauty with others…
But I want to close with another thing that seems to parallel today's verse.
In Ephesians 3:8 the Apostle Paul considered it a privilege… He was humbled to be given the grace to (quote) “preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ”.
Look, we are to go into all nations and make disciples… That does not mean we tell them about Jesus and leave them to be washed away by the acid rain of the world. It means getting involved with tenderness and love… getting our hands and knees dirty.
If you are a leader in your church… this is for you… do not keep your congregation poor in the Lord. This goes for leaders in families as well. Encourage them in the Lord; lead them in Bible study, teach them to rightly divide the word of truth and how to dig for the never ending riches of Gods glory in his Word so that they may grow up full of joy to worship him better and share his beauty with the world.